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Saturday September 20, 2014
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Candida

 

continued

blazingly fresh as it cuts and thrusts around subjects that seem a bit dog-eared.

Candida, first produced in 1898 and now playing at Performance Network, is a perfect example. Like all other playwrights of the early twentieth century, Shaw was fascinated with the question of the idle upper-middle-class woman and her possible redundancy. Progressive doctrines of the time dictated that she be treated as man's equal, but what did that mean, exactly? Who would bake the cookies? Hillary Clinton was to run aground nearly a century later trying to navigate this dilemma, and so it isn't surprising that Shaw, progressive socialist that he was, had trouble conceiving of a world in which women weren't spending a good deal of their time fussing over men — baking cookies, straightening neckties, and providing other soft, delicate touches — even though his politics told him women should be doing more important things.

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